World Review – March 26, 2016
I had begun to notice that Have Your Say articles, were appearing fewer and further between on World Review as 2015 drew to a close. The previous article on Mistrals took longer than usual to be published.
This article on multipolarity proved to be the last one to be published. I was informed then that ‘changes’ were underway. By July of 2016, both World Review and Have Your Say were no more. The parent site, Geopolitical Information Services, became Geopolitical Intelligence Services.
However, this article being published was a testament to the independent thinking encouraged of Have Your Say writers, World Review’s founder. I wrote this one in counterpoint to Prince Michael surmising that events were gravitating back to a bipolar state of geopolitics, with Washington and Moscow as the two primary poles.
IT IS undeniable that Russian geostrategic mischief is resurgent. Russian military, diplomatic and economic maneuvering, along with open military provocations toward NATO, all demonstrate this reality, writes Have Your Say Contributor Kevin Brent, a freelance writer on geopolitics and military events.
In the Geopolitical Information Service statement of January, 22, 2016, “Saber rattling intensifies in Washington, Moscow and Beijing,” Prince Michael of Liechtenstein theorized that a bipolar world of two heavily armed blocs may be reforming, with the prime powers once again being Russia and the United States.
However, as the growing adversarial relationship between Moscow and Washington takes shape, geopolitical alignment outside of Europe is unlikely to entirely mimic that witnessed during the Cold War.
From Cold War ideology to nationalism
The bipolar world of the Cold War was born from the contest between the two monolithic ideologies of communism and democratic constitutionalism. It truly began in 1917, rather than in 1945. Fascism forced a short-lived tripolar world, until crushed in all but Iberia by the end of World War II.
The 1991 Soviet collapse ended the Cold War and with it the bipolar world era; the global threat of socialist revolution having vanished. Geopolitics immediately began shifting to a multipolar world, with national and regional interests reclaiming their place as top priorities.
President Vladimir Putin’s quest to re-establish Moscow’s power and influence is rooted entirely in Russian nationalism, not in resurrecting the Soviet Union.
The first major developments in Europe after German reunification were the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia and the calamitous disintegration of Yugoslavia. Both events were rooted in ethnic nationalism. It is not a coincidence that these nations ceased to exist shortly after the chains of communism fell away.
Examination of world history shows that multipolarity is the natural geopolitical tendency. Had this been understood by post-Cold War leaders in the West, a number of today’s international crises could have been diminished in severity if not entirely averted.
Throughout pre-1945 history, powerful nations arose, some expanding into extraterritorial empires. The alliances they forged or joined were based strictly on national or imperial interests, not political ideologies.
Some countries became allies even when their people or governments despised each other. The United States for example, could just as easily have allied itself with Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany had the British or French governments sent an equivalent communique to Mexico as Germany’s Zimmerman Telegram.
Other nations, such as Nationalist China and Imperial Japan, failed to forge alliances in spite of ideological similarities, solely due to ethnic or national differences.
Misplaced Cold War nostalgia
Historians today whose individual memories are post-1945, often speak nostalgically of the Cold War as an era of mortal nuclear threat, but overall global order and stability due to that threat. This revisionist thinking ignores the bloody proxy wars that raged during this so-called ‘peaceful’ time.
Wars stemming from social, ethnic and nationalist conflicts unrelated to the Cold War were used by the Soviets merely to exploit or co-opt one side or the other. The Kremlin’s purpose was to infiltrate and turn them into vehicles for ‘people’s revolutions’ that would establish communist-controlled satellite regimes.
Future geopolitics will be driven and shaped by ethnic, national and regional interests, just as they were before and after the Cold War.
Washington and Moscow may well return as the most powerful ‘poles.’ But they will be competing for power in a world of rising regional contenders, each wielding varying degrees of economic and military power, and some possessing nuclear weapons.
These regional powers are more likely to forge their own local and extraterritorial spheres of influence and alliances than to fall into the geopolitical orbit of Washington or Moscow – unless their national or regional interests dictate it.